Lucy Chalwe is a happily married woman who lives with her husband and their 2-year-old daughter Maria in the remote rural community of Chilufya. Like most areas in this region, her village is surrounded by a stream and thick brush. What started as a normal day for a young mother in northern Zambia ended up a nightmare.
On that fateful day, Lucy woke up to do some household chores before joining her husband in their cassava field. When she was about to leave home, she discovered that her daughter Maria had a high temperature. Lucy thought that something could be wrong with her child but did not put much mind to it; she instead decided to keep her wrapped to her back the whole time. After a few hours of working in the field, something terrible happened.
“The warmth I was feeling on my back from her body suddenly increased. She became very hot and then had a seizure,” Lucy says. “I was scared - I screamed and quickly unwrapped my baby from my back and put her on the ground.” By the time her husband reached them, Maria’s eyes had rolled upwards. “I knelt down weeping and looking up to the heavens praying and asking God not to let my little Maria die,” she says.
A few minutes later, Lucy’s husband grabbed Maria and started running towards his father’s house, almost half an hour away, with Lucy following closely behind. When they got there, Lucy’s father-in-law was equally puzzled and told them to rush Maria to Brian, a local Community Health Worker (CHW). Brian is a World Vision trained and equipped frontline educator and health care provider. As a CHW, Brian ensures that children under five are tested and receive medication for specific diseases. He also teaches parents how prevent certain illnesses.
When they got to Brian, little Maria seemed lifeless. She had a high fever and could barely breathe. After a quick examination, Brian gave her some medicine to bring down her temperature. He then tested her for malaria, one of Zambia’s life-threatening diseases caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes. The test came out positive. “I had heard about malaria but never understood how deadly it was,” Lucy says.
Brian later gave Maria some anti-malarial drugs, a note, and lent his bicycle to Lucy and her husband to rush their baby to the nearest clinic 5 km away. Maria stayed in the hospital for about four days before she could stabilize. “We were lucky that we discovered that it was malaria in good time,” Brian says.
Thankfully, little Maria is now fully recovered and able to do what she loves the most, playing. Brian has since continued teaching Lucy and her husband about malaria, how it is contracted and prevented. “Had it not been for World Vision training Brian as a caregiver, we would have lost Maria and today we would be telling a different story. With Brian’s help, we are no longer at risk. We now have the means to prevent, and get treated for malaria,” says Lucy with a smile.